« AnteriorContinua »
acquired this blessedness, will he be ashamed that he so highly valued it, and that to gain it he was willing to deny himself, and take up his cross? No; rather if shame should enter heaven, he would be ashamed to think, that it made so feeble an impression upon his mind; that it engrossed so little of his attention; that with such a happiness in prospect, he should ever have walked mournfully before the Lord; and that with such a prize suspended before him, he should ever have been so sluggish in his endeavours to seize it.
Secondly. Hope may cause shame by the WEAKNESS OF ITS FOUNDATION: and such is the hope of the SELF-RIGHTEOUS PHARISEE. For on what does he place his dependence but something of his own, his own worthiness, or his own works? And here we may observe, first, that what he relies on does not come up to the nature of genuine religion, but is something merely ritual, ceremonious, external, in which the heart has no concern. He derives his encouragement from negative qualities, from comparison of himself with others, from the number of his performances, from the balancing of duty with omissions, and of virtue with vice. "And the Pharisee stood and prayed thus "with himself: God, I thank thee that I am not as "other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or
even as this Publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess." Secondly, if the works he pleads were in their principles truly spiritual and holy, they would not afford a ground of dependence. They would be a part of the building, but could not be the foundation. They would furnish us with evidence, but could not give us a title.
Thirdly, the indulgence of such a hope is even crimi nal, and highly offensive to God. While he seeks to obtain a right to eternal life by his own obedience, he is seeking salvation by the works of the law, and not by the faith of Jesus Christ. Accordingly he opposes the whole design of the Gospel dispensation; robs God of his peculiar glory; reflects upon his wisdom, as having been employed in a needless trifle; contemns his authority in commanding us to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ; denies his truth in the record which he has given of his Son; frustrates his grace, and makes Jesus Christ to be dead in vain. He disregards the love and mercy of the Saviour, tramples under foot the blood of the Son of God, and views his righteousness and his sufferings as wholly unnecessary, or as only an addition to supply a deficiency. Therefore, Fourthly, such a hope can never secure him from shame. It will be found "like a spider's web," curiously wrought, but easily, irreparably destroyed. The basis being too weak, the superstructure falls and crushes him as a fool and an offender, guilty in his very ruin. "Too proud, says God, to submit to my "righteousness, you shall appear before me in your "own. Refusing the Gospel, you shall be tried by "the law to which you have appealed. Unable to "save yourselves, I devised a method of salvation; I re"vealed it; but this you have despised and have sought "another. Walk in the light of your own fire, and "in the sparks that ye have kindled: this shall ye "have of mine hand; ye shall lie down in sorrow."
-Now see the awakened, humbled sinner. He is asking, "How shall man be just with God?" "Where
" with shall I come before the Lord?" "Where can I "safely rest a hope that maketh not ashamed?" These inquiries lead him to the Bible, and he soon finds the information he wants. "The Son of man is come "to seek and to save that which was lost. It hath "pleased the Father, that in him should all fullness dwell. He hath made us accepted in the beloved. "He is the end of the law for righteousness to every "one that believeth. By him all that believe are jus"tified freely from all things." This is like cold water to a thirsty soul. This attracts him; this determines the course of his application. "In him will I "trust. He is the door, by him will I enter. He is "the only refuge, in him I will hide. There is no "other, and I DESIRE no other foundation; and on "this will I build. I love obedience, I pray for gra"itude; but I abhor merit, When I have done all,
I am an unprofitable servant; sin mixes with all I "do: I MUST relinquish every other confidence; I "have no medium between THIS reliance and DE"SPAIR."
Now this hope cannot deceive him; it is as firm as the truth of God, and the all-sufficiency of the Saviour can make it. Behold," says God, "I lay in Zion "a stumbling stone and rock of offence: and whoso
ever believeth on him shall not be ashamed." In proportion as the faith of the believer increases he partakes of this assurance, and can say, "I know in "whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he " is able to keep that which I have committed to him "against that day." See him advancing to the throne of God; "Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ
Who can hinder his approach? He is
şeen marked with the "blood of sprinkling," he is heard making mention of his righteousness only.
"All joy to the believer! He can speak-
"I never trusted in an arm but thine,
"Nor hoped but in thy righteousness divine ;
"Angelic gratulations rend the skies;
"Pride falls unpityed, never more to rise;
"Humility is crowned; and faith receives the prize.”
THE FALSEhope of the
Thirdly. Hope may cause shame by NESS OF ITS WARRANT; and such is the ANTINOMIAN. How dreadful will it be "to fall into "the hands of the living God," while we are imagining ourselves to be his friends; to suppose ourselves in the road to heaven, and drop at once into the depths of hell!" There is a way which seemeth right unto a "man, but the end thereof are the paths of death." And in this way all those are walking, who while they profess to expect eternal life, and to place all their dependance upon the Saviour, "have not the Spirit of "Chrift," and are devoid of his image whose faith
does not overcome the world; whose hope does not purify them "even as He is pure." For while in this state, their expectation of heaven, whatever be their knowledge or their creed, is a mere fancy. A man with all his ignorance, may as well persuade himself that he is the greatest philosopher; or with all his indigence, may as rationally conclude that he is possessed of all the wealth of the Indies, as persons imagine, that they are in a fair way for glory, while they are strangers to real sanctification and "newness of life."
There is nothing in the Scriptures that does not condemn such an hope. It assures us that "without "holiness no man shall see the Lord:" and that except we "be converted, and become as little chil "dren," we " fhall in no case enter the kingdom of "God." Hence our Saviour by a very ftriking similitude holds forth the folly of leaning on any thing as a PROOF of our state, separate from holy obedience. "Whosoever heareth these things of mine, and Do66 ETH them, I will liken him unto a wise man, who "built his house upon a rock and the rain descended " and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat upon that house and it fell not, for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these "sayings of mine, and DOETH THEM NOT, fhall be "likened unto a foolish man who built his house upon "the sand; and the rain descended and the floods "came, and the winds blew and beat upon that house; " and it fell, and great was the fall of it."
And indeed, to take another view of the subject, it would be perfectly useless to give such a man a title to glory, and even to bring him there; for he would